Special -- Workers Rights Sabbath

Worker God, We Lift Up All Who Labor

Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to honor the worth and dignity of all who work to provide economic resources for their households, families, churches, and communities. It is also an important occasion to lift up economic injustice issues for those who labor in poor conditions and for low wages.

The following worship elements — a call to worship, a prayer of confession, an assurance of pardon, and suggested hymns for incorporating a Workers Rights Sabbath — are here to help make this a part of your regular Labor Day weekend service. Your congregation may want to consider hosting a special service on or near Labor Day in conjunction with other congregations, labor groups, and community organizations.

The call to worship might be divided among the congregation—left side, right side, or men and women.

Call to Worship

One: Worker God, whose hands built the earth, molded our bodies, and sowed the stars across the sky, we gather in your presence this morning with praise and thanksgiving for your mighty deeds.

Prayer of Confession

Call to Confession

One: On this Labor Day Sunday, let us, in a special way, lift up all people who labor: either for pay or as volunteers, in jobs or at school, at home or in the workplace, in the United States and around the world.

Unison Prayer of Confession

A: We are workers, God, just like you. But we confess that our work is not always done in a manner that affirms and honors each other.

B: Our work is not always done in a spirit that is pleasing to you. We confess that, on some occasions, we have blindly bought goods made by people who are paid too little or work in unsafe conditions.

A: We admit that we have failed to end an unjust system in which some workers have jobs that provide good wages, health insurance, sick leave, a pension, paid vacations, and other benefits, while others have jobs that do not.

B: Creator God, help us to build a new world out of the ashes of the old, a world where all workers are valued.

A: Help us to build a new world where those who clean houses are also able to buy houses to live in.

B: Help us to build a world where those who grow food can also afford to eat their fill.

A: And help us to build a world where those who serve us—in stores, schools, nursing homes, and many other places—are also served by us.

B: It will be a world where all workers everywhere share in the abundance that you have given us.

Words of Assurance

One: Our God is a God of grace and transformation. When we ask, God will give us the courage and strength to live out our faith in the workplace and the marketplace, as well as in the sanctuary.

Suggested Hymns

“We Would Be Building” TNCH 607
“Let Justice Flow Like Streams” TNCH 588
“O for a World” TNCH 575
“Come Labor On” TNCH 532
TNCH refers to hymns from The New Century Hymnal (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 1995).

These worship elements were written by Edith Rasell, minister for labor relations and community economic development, Justice and Witness Ministries: A Covenanted Ministry of the United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio. For more information on Workers Rights Sabbath, contact Rasell at raselle@ucc.org, or 216.736.3709, or 700 Prospect Avenue East, Cleveland, Ohio 44115–1100.

Copyright 2003 Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio. Permission is granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved. Designed and printed by United Church Resources, Local Church Ministries.

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CONTACT INFO

Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
216-736-3869
blains@ucc.org